Having a positive role model in the classroom plays its part, but the effects last a lifetime.
It’s common to say that everyone remembers a great teacher, although I’ve always found that the stupendously bad ones also stick in the memory. What is certainly true is that what happens in our school years does have lasting effects, for good or ill.
New research into rural schooling in 1930s and 1940s America makes the case for teachers as role models as well as educators. At a time when girls saw few women in professional roles, it found that those with disproportionately female teachers at primary school achieved better educational outcomes. Maybe that’s not surprising, but the researchers went on to show that the impact continued long after they had left the classroom. Women who had more female teachers earned more, and even lived longer, than those without.
There is far less good news for all of us concerned about the lasting impact of pandemic-related school closures, in the form of a history lesson from 1960s Germany.
The study examined the impact of a change in the school calendar that knocked a third off the length of two school years. Students had less classroom instruction, but with increased homework to make up for it.
While previous studies of the immediate impact on educational outcomes didn’t find much, this tracked those affected throughout their entire working lives, to show real effects on both employment rates and earnings (a year of lost teaching reduces lifetime earnings by 3%). This isn’t just about cash; even five decades afterwards, these students were more likely to be introverted and neurotic.
It turns out school – or the absence of it – really does stay with us for life.TIOB News